Published: 23 April 2020 at 14:31
Association between COVID-19 conspiracies and social distancing compliance
New research has found that UK adults who reject COVID-19 conspiracy theories are more likely to comply with social distancing measures.
Several conspiracy theories have spread in recent weeks, including claims that COVID-19 is caused by electromagnetic waves from new 5G telephone masts, and that governments are deliberately creating panic in order to introduce tighter controls over their populations.
The findings of the new study, led by Professor Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), indicate there are health benefits to be gained from helping the public to reject COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
Preliminary results from the study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, also demonstrate for the first time a significant association between people’s tendency to think analytically and their compliance with social distancing rules.
The study involved a nationally-representative sample of 520 adults from the UK, with an average age of 46, who were surveyed between 9-10 April. It found that adults who had a tendency to think analytically were more likely to reject COVID-19 conspiracy theories, and rejection of conspiracy theories in turn was associated with greater compliance with the Government’s social-distancing rules.
Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said:
The conclusions of the study are tentative until after peer-review and the preliminary study is available via the Open Science Framework at https://osf.io/nmx9w/